KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 8: August 2017
Tanka Tale: 341 words


by Claire Everett

“I feel like I’ve lost my way, Mum. I mean, that’s if I ever had one.”

The cat on the windowsill stretches luxuriously, every grey hair-tip silvered with sunlight. She makes a mat of late afternoon warmth and adorns it with the Paisley swirl of her sleepy self.

“You’re sixteen,” I venture. I know his age is a sore point. These days I seem to use it as the explanation for every mood, or the reason for him to act it (as opposed to his shoe-size). “Much as I know it’s a cliché, I’m going to say it anyway: the world is your oyster.”

That elicits the predicted harumph.

“But if I don’t have a purpose, what’s the point in anything?”

The cat rouses briefly, nibbles and licks her softest belly fur, combs it with her tongue. Probably a rogue flea, I think. She settles again, faintly purring because her humans are nearby, much as she’d be just as happy if they weren’t.

“But, that’s the liberating thing,” I say, “maybe there is no point. Remember, we’re beings not doings. Never mind why we’re here. We’re here. Part of a purpose that isn’t, and never was, our own.”

A speck in the window’s sky. A spider abseiling from its own silk. No, there’s another. Floaters? That reminds me, I need to book an eye, wait a minute...well, would you look at that? How many hours have I been oblivious?

Now he’s seen them too...

from the blues of dawn
to the blues of dusk
and still to preen
Africa’s dust from their wings—
they’re back!


Author’s Notes:

1. The common swift Apus apus, from the Greek “ápous” meaning “without feet,” a misnomer which had its origins in the belief the bird was footless. The small, weak legs no doubt evolved as a result of the bird spending much of its life airborne, even sleeping and mating on the wing.

2. “They’re back!” is from the poem “Swifts” by Ted Hughes, in Collected Poems for Children, Faber & Faber (2008).

Claire Everett
Issue 8, August 2017

is the founding editor of the Skylark tanka journal and former tanka-prose editor for Haibun Today. She is the author of two tanka collections: twelve moons and The Small, Wild Places [reviewed in KF-5]. She is co-author of Hagstones: A Tanka Journey with Joy McCall, and Talking in Tandem with her husband, Tony Everett. Claire served on the editorial team for Take Five Best Contemporary Tanka (Volume 4, 2011), and in 2015 she edited the Tanka Society of America’s Members’ Anthology, Spent Blossoms.

She is mum to five children and step-mum to two and likes nothing better than to be cycling through the Dales with Tony on their trusty tandem Tallulah, or walking on the North Yorkshire Moors.

Site contains text, proprietary computer code,
and graphic images that are protected by:

⚡   Many thanks for taking time to report broken links to: KYSOWebmaster [at] gmail [dot] com   ⚡